FEATURED ENTREPRENEUR – HOLYSTOKEDPosted: October 20, 2014
This week’s ‘Featured Entrepreneur’ is a group of 4 guys, who started a skateboard collective around India. We talked with Abhishek, who’s one of the founders of ‘Holystoked’. What started with 4 guys now has grown to about 100 skaters, nationally. They want to use skating to promote expression and creativity within the youth, especially those living in poverty.
DREAM:IN: Hey Abhishek, thank you for spending some time with us today to talk about your collective ‘HolyStoked’. Can you tell us about the HolyStoked collective?
Abhishek: Holystoked collective was started by 5 skaters in 2011 with the goal of finding solutions to common problems facing skateboarders like where to find good skate equipment and places to skate. From there, 4 of us registered a company for the purpose of selling good skateboards and building skate spots around India. Since then, we have started our own brand, make t-shirts, and do a bunch of events every year.
DREAM:IN: How did you guys get started? How did the idea come about?
Abhishek: Originally the idea was to start a magazine about different urban cultures popping up around India with skateboarding as the main focus. Somewhere along that, we decided that the scene is not big enough for a magazine so we need to make the scene first. With hardly any skaters in India, we have been working toward spreading the culture and joy of skateboarding all over the country.
DREAM:IN: What’s your role at HolyStoked?
Abhishek: Well, recently, we have divided our labour. I’m currently campaigning for building skateparks and raising funds along with physically building parks. Som, another founder of Holystoked, is spearheading the skate classes and workshops at schools and skateparks.
DREAM:IN: How many people are currently in the collective?
Abhishek: The collective has grown close to, maybe, 100 people all over India with most of them here in Bangalore.
DREAM:IN: You guys sell some really cool items, I really love the map of India t-shirt. How does the design process work for your skateboards, t-shirts, shoes, etc…?
Abhishek: Well so far, designing has been chaotic with no real ideas and people randomly on our crew come up with designs which they would like to see on a t-shirt. Since last month, we have been working with professional designers and artists to make our first board graphics and all new t-shirts.
DREAM:IN: Who does the manufacturing of skateboards and parts?
Abhishek: Unfortunately, we haven’t reached the point where producing boards in India is financially viable. We need at least 5000 skaters to support the scene. Until then, we are importing boards from U.S.A , Europe and now China, where we are getting our own brand boards made.
DREAM:IN: How do you guys market your products?
Abhishek: Marketing is done mostly online through social media but we are heavily involved with skate and surf events in India. Additionally, we also do our own events in Bangalore, such as competitions and skate meets, where we invite skaters from all over the country on days like “Go Skate Day” to come to Bangalore and make some noise here. Also building skateparks is the best marketing there is!!
DREAM:IN: Do you guys have any events coming up for ‘HolyStoked’?
Abhishek: Starting this month, we are starting a worldwide fundraiser to raise funds for building 3 parks spread out over 2 months. The building will start late December in Kovalam, Goa and Kasol. Other than that, there is also another park we are going to start building in Panna, with the help of Skate Aid from Germany.
DREAM:IN: How would you like to see ‘HolyStoked’ grow? Where would you want to see ‘HolyStoked’ in the next 5 years?
Abhishek: Honestly, I hope that ‘Holystoked’ becomes a catch phrase for skateboarding in India. It is a beautiful thing and we shouldn’t lose sight of our goal, which is to build a skatepark in every major city as well as the smaller ones, where it will have the greatest impact. Maybe one day we can be big enough to support the scene and sponsor skaters. Also, another long term dream of ours is to have a skate school along the lines of Bryggerrietes School in Sweden.
DREAM:IN: Do you see skateboarding in the future of India? How can skateboarding positively shape and influence the youth?
Abhishek: Skateboarding is going to be huge in India. We have a large percentage of the population who are young and are running out of things to do. With stiff competition in school, college and work, they will need to find an outlet for their creativity and energy. With most of the people in India living in poverty, the kids have way bigger problems than boredom. From my experience, in the past years, skateboarding gives these kids an opportunity to get out and meet new people, have new experiences and share their stories with each other. Skateboarding doesn’t solve complex problems, but gives skaters something do where they can forget about everything that is bothering them and allows for their creativity to come out.
DREAM:IN: Who are some of your biggest influences, favorite skaters?
Abhishek: Biggest inspirations would be the crew of 2er (zweier skate club) in Hanover, Germany. They are some of my best friends and biggest inspirations for what we do with skateboarding. As for favorite skaters, I love Chris Haslam, Mike V and Ritchie Jackson; they are all super creative with their skateboarding.
DREAM:IN: I’m from coast-side Los Angeles, and I live about 10 minutes from Santa Monic/Venice Beach area, which is home to skateboarding legends, Z-Boys, which the movie “Lords of Dogtown” was made about. Has that crew influenced you at all? Can you relate to their style?
Abhishek: Yeah, I seen the movie, as well as the documentary. You are lucky to live close to some legendary spots. It is an amazing story, and of course, everyone worldwide will thank those guys for starting it all. It is just difficult to relate to since the Z-Boys were from totally different backgrounds than from the original ‘Holystoked’ crew. For example, I graduated law school and worked for two years as an artist in an animation studio.
DREAM:IN: Where are some of your places to skateboard, here in India?
Abhishek: Some concrete bowls and ramps around India are in Goa, Bangalore, Pune, Pondicherry, and Hampi. Delhi also has some great street spots as well as a basement with wooden ramps.
DREAM:IN: If people want to check out and buy some of HolyStoked’s merchandise & products, or if someone wants to buy their first ‘HolyStoked’ skateboard, how can they do it?
Abhishek: You can get it www.holystoked.com or you could come down to the park in Bangalore.
DREAM:IN: Lastly, do you have any tips for other young entrepreneurs out there? Any advice to keep them rolling?
Abhishek: My tip would be to make sure you are doing what you love, there is no point starting something you don’t believe in. Stay patient when it comes to making money, and take joy in just doing what you are doing. Also entrepreneurs face immense stresses so you have to find something that helps you unwind. Nothing better for that than skateboarding 🙂
DREAM:IN: Thanks for the telling us about the collective, will check you guys out at the skatepark soon!